NEW DELHI, April 2: Scientists have predicted using a mathematical model that the ongoing second-wave of COVID-19 pandemic across the country could peak by mid-April, following which the infections may see a steep decline by the end of May.
During the first wave of COVID-19 infections across India, the mathematical approach, named SUTRA, predicted that the initial surge of infections in August would peak by September and lower in February 2021.
Scientists, including Manindra Agrawal from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur, applied the model to predict the trajectory of the current surge in infections and found that the number of daily new infections is likely to peak in mid-April for this ongoing pandemic wave.
“For the last several days, we have found that there is a reasonable chance that the cases in India could peak sometime between 15-20 April. It is a sharp slope, but on the way down, it would likely be equally sharp, coming down very fast and by end of May may see a dramatic reduction,” Agrawal said.
“There is some uncertainty in predicting the peak value of daily new infections because of the sharp rise. Currently, it is coming to 1 lakh infections per day, but this can go up or down. But the timing remains the same between April 15-20,” he added.
The scientists predict that in the current wave, the first State to peak could be Punjab in a few days, followed by Maharashtra.
However, the IIT Kanpur professor added that the model’s prediction of the new peak is sensitive to the daily new infections data.
“Even a little bit of change each day causes the peak numbers to change by several thousand numbers. But the location of the peak has remained on mid-April,” he added.
Independent calculations made by scientists, including Gautam Menon from Ashoka University in Haryana, have also predicted that the peak of the ongoing wave of infections could be between mid-April and mid-May.
However, Menon cautioned that such projections of COVID-19 cases should really be trusted only in the short term.
“Any excessively precise prediction, of a peak within just a 5-day window, would ignore the many uncertainties associated with the inputs to any such calculation,” Menon, who was not involved in the SUTRA modelling, said.
While the model did not previously predict a second-wave in India, he said it could have been due to a change in the parameters sometime between February and March 2021.
“So clearly during this time some parameters had changed. So we had to wait for some time to collect new data and see how the parameters had changed, which we now know,” Agrawal said. – PTI